Exploring California Wine Country

If you are an oenophile, visiting California Wine Country is a must as it is the premier wine-growing region in the United States. According to the Wine Institute, there are 2,000 wineries to explore and tour throughout the state, including those in the popular areas of Monterey County, Paso Robles, Sonoma County, Monterey County and Napa Valley.

Monterey County has 40,000 acres of grapes and 175 vineyards that take place in a 90-mile-long valley that includes production of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. But there’s only so much wine sampling you can do in a day, so include a tour of the Monterey Bay Aquarium, Cannery Row – a waterfront street, and Esalen – a retreat center — and the famous 17-mile through Pebble Beach and Pacific Grove.

Paso Robles Wine Country is located between Los Angeles and San Francisco and is home to more than 200 boutique and family-owned wineries.

In Sonoma there are three wineries that are each over 100 years old, including Buena Vista, Gundlach Bundschu, and Sebastiani. Then enjoy Bodega Bay where you can watch the whales, walk along the beach or hike through Jack London State Park named after the writer.

In the famous Napa Valley, wineries include Domaine Chandon, owned by the French Champagne house of Moet & Chandon, and the Robert Mondavi Winery. The Inglenook Estate is owned by film director Francis Ford Coppola, of “The Godfather” fame, purchased this winery in 1975. In 2011 Francis Ford Coppola purchased back the Trademark name of Inglenook and then changed the winery name from Rubicon back to its original Inglenook name.

In Salinas Valley, taste the grapes of Scheid Vineyards in Greenfield and Paraiso Vineyards, Wrath Wines, Manzoni Cellars and Hahn Estates/Smith & Hook Winery in Soledad. When the tastings are finished, visit Pinnacles National Park, a U.S. National Park, Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, and the National Steinbeck Center in Salinas.

No matter what vino you enjoy, whether it is a Zinfandel, Burgundy, Chianti, Sauvignon Blanc, or Pinot Grigio, there is a sample and winery for everyone’s palate. During a visit to any of the wineries, there are also tasting rooms, local cuisine and a host of winery events to enjoy.